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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Officials talk taxes

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mayor Brian Wyndham speaks with the Clay County Council during the council meeting Monday about two possible taxes and a request for a five-year plan. Wyndham told the council he will not be submitting a five-year plan. [Order this photo]
During the Clay County Council meeting Monday, Mayor Brian Wyndham and Clay County Commissioner Vice President Paul Sinders spoke to the council about two possible taxes -- surtax and wheel tax.

During last month's council meeting, the council agreed the Clay County Commissioners, Clay County Highway Department and the City of Brazil should have plans for how they will use the money collected through the taxes.

On Monday, Mayor Brian Wyndham spoke to the council about their request for a five-year plan, as well as the taxes themselves.

"I respect the position you're in and the office you hold," Wyndham began. "I don't feel an obligation to submit to you a plan. I don't think it's the county council's job to hold me accountable for how we spend taxpayers' dollars in the city. I think the taxpayers should do that; that's why we vote."

He told the council he would not submit a plan and explained why. Wyndham showed the council a previous plan another mayor had developed by flipping through pages in a folder. He explained the plan had cost thousands of dollars to develop and create.

"When we do a plan in Brazil, we are dealing with utilities," Wyndham said. "We have to identify if we have streets where we need to replace utility lines in the street before we mill it up and resurface it. It's a pretty in-depth situation. It comes to a very large cost to do it. That's why I'm not going to submit a plan. I feel it would be very irresponsible of me to spend taxpayers' dollars to submit some type of plan when we don't even know if the money is going to come about for it."

Wyndham mentioned several times during his presentation he respected the council and wanted to work well with them.

"I don't mean this as any disrespect," he said. "I'm not here to make the council look bad by any means, but there's a fiscal responsibility to these plans that I'm just not willing to get on board and spend the money on. It's not that I don't want to be a team player."

Wyndham is looking to the future, and he doesn't want to make a plan that may not happen.

"I also don't want to get painted in a corner where I can't hold up to my end of the deal," he said. "If I lay down a plan and then if I do anything to alter that plan ... those people who live on that street will come to my door. It's amazing how much things can change from year to year -- one road can be terrible and one can be pretty good and then next thing you know that one is worse."

Councilman Larry Moss agreed with Wyndham.

"I've thought about this issue a lot in the last 30 days," Moss said. "My wife's a teacher, and one of the things that's going on in education ... is there's being so much required --planning and paperwork -- that it's taking teachers out of the classroom. It's causing them to be administrators more than they are teachers and taking kid's time away.

"The government in general has been doing that with everything. So if we're going to micro-manage everything we do, all we're doing is taking positive time away from fixing roads. I think we need to be wise about how we use the money ... but after thinking about this a lot, I agree 100 percent."

Wyndham also explained to the council that he supports the possible taxes.

"I am for the wheel tax, and I think I've tried to make that as public as I can," Wyndham said. "Most people I've talked to give a positive response when they understand this money is designated to be used on the roads only."

Due to the current economic environment, Wyndham said it doesn't seem like a good time to impose new taxes. However, he said citizens should weigh the taxes with the cost to repair damage to their vehicles due to the road conditions.

"The city desperately needs (the money from the taxes) to see the improvements that people would enjoy to see," Wyndham said. He said the city's potential gain would be around $94,000 every year.

"I really urge you to give this strong consideration," he told the council. "I think the need for it is there. It's not going to get cheaper to fix these roads down the road. The cost will just escalate on us, and we certainly don't want to do that."

The surtax may be set anywhere from 2-10 percent of the motor vehicle excise tax payments, which are based on the age and the initial retail price of the vehicle, by owners of automobiles, light trucks and motorcycles. Clay County has the other option of imposing a flat fee of anywhere from $7.50 to $25 per vehicle.

The wheel tax is a flat fee per vehicle of between $5 and $40 on heavier vehicles. The wheel tax would not affect vehicles owned or operated by religious organizations and vehicles owned by the state or county. Both the surtax and wheel tax must be passed concurrently if passed at all.

Sinders spoke on behalf of the Clay County Commissioners during the meeting, regarding their five-year plan for the tax revenue, as well as declaring his support for the taxes.

"We do not believe a five-year plan is a good idea," Sinders said. "We don't believe it's feasible. We don't believe it's workable. Any plan creates expectations. If you list their road on a schedule, they are going to expect this to be done at that time. If that's not done, they will blame us ..."

Sinders explained they do not know how much money they will receive the first year through the taxes.

"We can't predict revenue that far ahead," he said. "It's going to vary some."

He explained another aspect that could change the plan is weather. Bad weather conditions could affect which roads need to be done each year.

"I'll tell you another major concern I have that will directly affect how many roads the mayor, the county and every city will be able to do: What is going to be the price of oil? That will affect how much we pay for asphalt and chip and seal," Sinders said. "The higher it goes, the fewer roads we can do."

Sinders mentioned the commissioners would be willing to do a two-year plan.

"We might be able to give you a two-year plan that is reasonable," Sinders said. "But we don't want to give you a plan that is not reasonable for something that may or may not happen. We cannot predict the future, times change and different problems arise, which may need to be addressed."

Sinders spoke to multiple things that need to be done before resurfacing roads in Clay County.

"Before we do any asphalting or chip and seal, ditches need to be dug. We have a problem with ditching in Clay County. Something else I'd like to see done is the brush cut," he said. "Every road we consider for asphalt or chip and seal needs to be checked for culverts. I don't want to put the asphalt down and then six months later, we put a new culvert in across the road. That's not a good way to spend money."

Sinders and the council agreed the revenue for the taxes would not immediately fix the roads.

"Another fear I have once the taxes are approved is that people will think this is a cure for the roads in the county and city and incorporated towns in one or two years," he said. "That is not going to happen. It is going to take several years for us to get caught up to where we need to be."

If the taxes are passed, taxpayers would pay the taxes during registration of the vehicle at the license branch. The revenue would be distributed to the county, city and towns to be used only in repairing and maintaining streets and roads.

"So many people believe when they pay their property tax that that money goes toward the roads," Sinders said.

Councilman Steven Withers agreed that the public needs to be educated about where their tax money goes.

"A lot of people that complain, gripe or moan about everything, don't have a clue," he said. "We need to get the public to understand it better."

Sinders promised the commissioners plan to use the revenue responsibly if the taxes are passed.

"If these taxes are approved, we will be careful, responsible, conservative and will spend the money wisely to benefit the greatest number of people in this county," Sinders said.

The revenue would be collected beginning Jan. 1, 2013, if the taxes are passed this year.

The council has until July 1 to pass the surtax and wheel tax.

"I would like to move on this so we can be ready to vote on this in May," Clay County Council President Mike McCullough said. "If we have a unanimous vote, we can pass it. But if we have one dissention, we have to vote a second time. We have two more regular meetings to vote on it."

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Making the poor people pay more tax is not the answer in this economy we need more accountability for all the people who fall in this category "A lot of people that complain, gripe or moan about everything, don't have a clue," I say No new taxes! There are other ways of raising the revenue needed Do not raise tax on the hard working people of Clay County.

-- Posted by Combat VET on Tue, Apr 3, 2012, at 11:52 PM

There needs to be accountability for the tax money. I have been calling the county highway dept. since fall to fix our badly decaying road. Needless to say I'm still dodging all the same holes I was in November. The lady on the phone says "oh you are on the list". I received my property tax bill right on time, and if I don't pay I will be penalized. I have to be responsible, where as the irresponsible county government does not. The officials dont care!! If they did, you would see improvements. I am excited to vote in the primary because I will not be voting for our sitting commissioner, Jack Withers. People are taking rock from adjacent county roads to fill pot holes in front of their homes. The road conditions in this county are a slap in the face to all the hard working, taxing paying residents of Clay County.

-- Posted by Schraderfan on Wed, Apr 4, 2012, at 7:29 AM

When I moved here 6 years ago the road we live on was paved all the way down to the end,now it is 90% rock and pot holes. Unbelievable. If this County Council can't and wont fix our roads we as the people need to remove them all and start over!

-- Posted by Combat VET on Wed, Apr 4, 2012, at 9:56 AM

Also what about the big rigs and all the farm tractors using the roads here in the county will they have to pay a tax I think not. I have seen residential residence converted to truck stops. I know I live next to a guy who has 3 18 wheeler s running at all times of the day or night, are they going to pay a extra tax ,I think not. why is corruption so unchecked in this county?

-- Posted by Combat VET on Wed, Apr 4, 2012, at 11:05 AM

Steve we are moaning for our cars!!Bad roads.

Councilman Steven Withers agreed that the public needs to be educated about where their tax money goes.

"A lot of people that complain, gripe or moan about everything, don't have a clue," he said. "We need to get the public to understand it better."

-- Posted by Combat VET on Wed, Apr 4, 2012, at 5:28 PM

seems like they should have enough money , my property taxes doubled as did the increased valuation of my house and no improvements was done ......government seems to be just like wall street completely out of touch and control

-- Posted by brazil citizen on Thu, Apr 5, 2012, at 2:45 AM

Amen Brazil citizen . And these guys are saying we the People are moaning and complaining your dam right we are

!This Council is a joke and need to be removed from office!

-- Posted by Combat VET on Thu, Apr 5, 2012, at 9:54 AM

combat vet;

you got a bad attitude. BUT, i love it. you need to contact me. there are alot of other issues, besides the roads and the taxes that need to be addressed.

and i am curious to find out if there is any federal or state grants for fixing the streets. or is taxing us is the easy way out.

there are people in this county; who have others issues also.

feel free to contact me anytime mark a bedwell (812) 691-6176

-- Posted by madmarkbedwell on Thu, Apr 5, 2012, at 10:56 PM

There has always been stimulus grants available all they need to do is apply for them. Now they want more tax so they misuse more of our $$$. They also want too sneak in this tax before the primary in May. Sneaky dirty politics!

-- Posted by Combat VET on Thu, Apr 5, 2012, at 11:40 PM

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